Three weeks ago I found myself in what I ended up calling The Quarantucci. Our oldest son tested positive for Covid (remember when “rona” wasn’t all up in our grills?) and we were settling in for another round of family isolation, but this time with masks and distance within our own home. Also, how is anyone supposed to really know how to get this rona situation right? My perfectionism would love a target to hit. Just give me a goal people! I digress.

Quarantucci highlighted some things that have come in handy when I feel off, wonky, unable to steady myself. No matter how breezy I like to pretend I am, it turns out that I am a sucker for certain routines in my everyday life. The need for predictable rhythms have found their way into teeny tiny moments that help me feel a little less out of sorts. They almost feel anchoring in a time when life seems extra unpredictable.

Things like a Texas Pecan drip coffee with two stevia and unsweetened almond milk, large of course, to bring me back to life after exercise. Working out is a part of my mental health rhythm that, turns out, can’t be strayed too far away from these days. Without an 8 am heart rate spike you will find me questioning my existence, staring out the window midday instead of completing my tasks.

This is a real life text sent from my phone in response to my best friend checking in on me at 12:56 pm during Quarantucci: “Yesterday and today have been up and down bc of Covid. I’m guessing. I’m considering feeling hideous but that comes and goes. That’s it! I’m changing clothes and getting a workout in.”

Then I did and I felt better and here we are.

So, I ask myself why? Why the need for a pounding heart, a Texas Pecan and a few really good people to text when the anchor feels like it’s been lost? Because my mind needs the endorphins from exercise and the connection of interacting with familiar (masked) faces at the local coffee shop. My actual body needs to feel the warmth of the sun as it soaks up Vitamin D. My feelings need to feel acknowledged by people I trust. Put more simply, my brain needs routine. It needs the physical reminder that I am working to maintain health and that I am a part of a community. It needs the rhythm that comes from tiny things like giggling, or petting the puppy, or saying ‘hieeeeeee’ to a buddy. All little bitty things that I can control when the world around me can’t seem to get back on track.

The two, three, four week spurts of finding a routine only for it to be switched up and turned upside down is whiplash-y! When I feel sane I say things like “I am a smart lady, who has a lot of stability in my life. I can get through this CARAZEEE.” When I am not well in my head my thoughts include: “Nope. I am not gonna make it. I don’t wanna today.”

It’s on the ‘nope’ days that I remind myself to fall into the routines that have gotten me through the other ‘nope’ days. I filter through the messy parts and look for the rhythms that steady me. If buying coffee isn’t in the cards for the day then I sure will use a whisk to froth that almond milk at home. If the gym is not on the agenda then I pick up a leash and choose a pup to accompany me on a walk. If all else fails and the wonk of the world weighs too heavy then I grab my phone and reach out to a friend to help me re-anchor.

Feeling just crazy enough in the midst of a forced slow down was the perfect combination to show me exactly what I needed. It wasn’t a road trip, or a night out, it was embracing the littlest things that brought me calm in my every day. I am reminded that routines are adaptable. Rhythms can be disrupted without being completely dismantled even in the midst of a Quarantucci.